Shiro Sushi and Hibachi
105 Stockbridge Rd
Great Barrington, MA 01230
Great Barrington has a lot of sushi restaurants. This has always mystified me because as far as I can tell, we are very far away from the ocean indeed. The only conclusion I can make: the Yuppie Factor. Great Barrington has many yuppies, and they all, apparently, enjoy eating raw fish and feeling vaguely adventurous.
So what of Shiro, the Other Japanese Restaurant, playing second fiddle to Bizen?
Shiro is located near The Cove bowling alley and the impressive asian art store, in a rather Denny's-esque building. The interior, however, is quite attractive, and I enjoyed the relaxing ambience the owners have created. I was quickly seated - not an issue, as the place was rather empty at 5:30 on a Saturday.
Shiro offers hibachi along Benihana lines, which means you get to sit at a grill and watch a chef flip shrimp around while handling a distressingly huge knife. Since I was dining alone, I didn't get this.
The menu features your standard Americanize Japanese entrees - teriyaki, udon, tempura, katsu, you know the drill. There's also a variety of sushi rolls and a few reasonably priced lunch entrees, which is one definite advantage over the inflated prices Bizen posts. I wasn't feeling the sushi that night, but I did, however, have an unstoppable desire for seaweed salad ($4.95) and teriyaki salmon ($16.95.)
The salmon came with a rather weak miso soup and the typical half-ass Japanese restaurant salad, although the carrot dressing was pretty good - too bad the shredded greens were boring. The seaweed salad appeared promptly and was a standard but tasty rendition, with the satisfying aqua crunch I've come to associate with the dish. The Diet Coke I ordered arrived in a charming tiny glass bottle, which I rarely see in the USA.
The salmon arrived on a huge and intimidatingly hot platter, served on a bed of onions and rather depressed looking bean sprouts. I also received about two broccoli, and immediately wished for more, as I am a totally unrepentant Broccoli Whore and would happily eat my weight in it. The fish? Eh...not bad. It was a bit overcooked, but the sauce wasn't insipidly sweet or overdone, and I enjoyed the addition of the crunchy, caramelized onions. (But why are they so stingy on the damn vegetables?) Bizen's teriyaki fish? Much better.
Is Shiro a good alternative to Bizen? Maybe. It's much more of a family atmosphere and the prices are lower - but it lacks the cool feeling and the adventurous menu choices that Bizen executes so well. However, if all you want is some simple Japanese food in the area without breaking the bank, Shiro is a decent choice. But is it worth going to for an event, special occasion, or simply for the sake of culinary exploration? No.